Crossing to the South Pacific, Part 2
Ding, ding......ding, ding......ding, ding.....ding. It's morning and the ships clock has just rang 7:30 am, which means it's time for me to go to bed (and wake Brett). But before I can find the sweet release of sleep, there is work to be done.
It's been a particularly terrible night - one of the worst we've had out here. The seas were highly confused and there were very light winds, so we were motoring. Motoring in confused seas means you are like a cork bobbing in the ocean because there is no sail area to provide drive through the waves. I imagine it's fairly similar to being in a giant washing machine. Since we were in the heart of the ITCZ, we also experienced several squalls, where the wind speed would go from nothing to 20 knots in about 5 minutes with heavy rains drenching everything in the cockpit (as it was raining sideways), all of which would last about 25 minutes and then we would be back to nothing again.
With this crazy bobbing cork action it's pretty impossible to sleep, so we were both exhausted when the clock signalled the watch change. Around 6am the winds had filled in and become steady again, and while I was delighted that the wind had returned, I just wanted to sit down and cry. I can't describe how tired and defeated you are after that kind of night - just completely wrung out. And even something small like putting up the sails, which has long since become routine, seems absolutely overwhelming.
But we got through it, and then I went to bed. And lo and behold - I slept! The deep sleep you can only achieve when the boat is well balanced and the seas are mild, and you are completely done in. Three blissful hours of sleep. When I woke the sun was bright in the sky, the cockpit was dry and my husband was smiling at me. It was a new day - and a great one at that. We had mild seas (long swells all from the same direction) and the wind was absolutely PERFECT! Not too strong, not too light.....just right. At the end of the day, after running our genniker for most of the day, we made the right decision and brought it down right before the winds kicked up. It was like magic - the perfect day.
The dichotomy of emotions you go through out here is truly incredible. Change is constant - nothing stays perfect (or terrible) for long, so you are in a constant state of flux. While one night can be so bad you think you'll never get through it, the next can be one of the best you've had. There is no dependable reality - you just have to take what Mother Nature has decided to dole out at any given moment.
Not being able to control my environment has made this trip one of the hardest things I have ever done. Because we are stuck. There is no getting off this ride. We are thousands of miles from anything and quitting is not an option. So you get through the tough times. Because you have to. You find that little bit of strength that you didn't know you had left and you put it to use. Then you get some sleep and pray for a better day tomorrow - and sometimes you get it. And when you wake up and the sun is shining and the waves are nice and the wind is perfect, you are glad to be here in this moment.
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